TODAY -

Jarnail's tryst with Manipur

Free Thinker *



"My Tryst With Manipur", is a memoir written by a handsome Jat Sikh named Jarnail Singh, an MT cadre IAS, who retired as the Chief Secretary of Manipur. You will certainly agree with my jive 'handsome' when you look at his pictures, particularly the first one at the snap-pages inserted in between page 152 and 153 of the same book. Normally I don't indulge in book-reading for reviews, except for gossips or self-aggrandizement. When I went through some selected pages of the book I felt induced to read the whole .

It is an interesting book because it carries an aroma of our land and people. I am crazily attached to my land and people; you may flay me for my feudal mindset in this increasingly globalized world where boundaries become hazy and nationals become earthlings. In this digital age and AI era we still talk about indigenous people and traditional land boundary; and people think these are still significant; I go with the people.

In 1979 as instructed by the then Chief Secretary, Sardar Jarnail Singht as DC Chandel went to Molcham village on the Indo-Burma border to look into a complaint about land encroachment by the Burmese. He recalled that he walked 65 km to examine the matter. After five days of journey mostly on foot he prepared a detailed report about the missing Boundary Pillar and possible solution to settle the issue.

He found a lot of merit in the representation of Molcham headman given to the government of India as well as to the government of Manipur. Pillar number 66 had been plucked out with the intention of grabbing Indian Territory. Such problems might have been lingering on even today.

Of course the Sardar has fallen in love with Manipur, he married a beautiful local girl named Seraphina. They had a court marriage on 12 January 1978 at the office Chamber of Mukundo Singh, Sub-registrar of Marriages, at Lamphelpat, Imphal.

The author noted that Kangla is historically and religiously important to the people of Manipur. As per the royal Chronicle of Manipur, Kangla had been the royal palace since the reign of Pakhangba who ascended the throne in 33 AD. In pre-Pakhangba period a ruling clan named Khaba ruled Kangla. Since 1891, Kangla had been under the occupation of the security forces. The people of Manipur wanted Kangla to be vacated.

Now Kangla is handed over to the people/state. Jarnail Singh instructed the Art and Culture Department to get the whole area measured; after the measurement he was told that the Kangla area was 222 acres; in the Official document it was 237.62 acres. May be the eastern side of Kangla might have been eroded by the Imphal River, he pondered.

In his book he talked about bandhs and blockades , Naga-Kuki clashes, law and order situation, Insurgency, AFSPA, State Capital Complex project, Manipur University, Corruption and CBI cases, Mao-Tadubi rice beer, Less population more votes etc, etc.

In the book he also maintained that he did a lot for the power sector in the state and also took interest in computerization. Lashmikumar who is presently the Power Commissioner, from whom I had snatched this book, says Jarnail Singh's contribution in our power sector is quite commendable. Singh sab what a powerful acknowledgement!

At page 37, 'a poor man's win', fonders many hearts; when Jarnail Singh was Additional DC of Manipur Central District he got a case from Sugnu in which a piece of land had to be partitioned.

This case was pending for many years. A very poor man who could not even hire a lawyer claimed one third of the land but an influential man wanted it all. He saw the land records, according to the records half of the land belongs to the poor man. He asked his staff to partition the land as per the records. The poor man was surprised (in tears) as he was not expecting it.

Finally Jarnail Singh has given some good advice to the Babus & Civil Servants based on his wide experience in the State and Federal governance including Games & Sports :
be politically neutral ( not opportunistically neural),
be determined in office ( not at home),
be quick in decision making ( again not at home),
be innovative( not in front of your better half) ,
be helpful and kind ( to those who know how to reciprocate),
work with dedication,
avoid giving political advice to politicians (but they take only your advice because they don't trust one another),
listen to public representatives carefully, (because they are the real trouble-makers),
pursue mid career study ( with full salary on leave),
learn public policy and project management,
be proud of your knowledge ( if you don't have don't worry ),
when you leave a post leave with good memories ( normally it is difficult).

The jargons within the brackets have nothing to do with the esteemed author of the memoir; these aberrant lingos are from my side. I must say it is a readable book for those who love to learn about contemporary Manipur, which is perhaps the most democratically agile state.


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on September 22 , 2018.



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